Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hall Wines St. Helena

Hall Wines St. Helena  is on the St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), south of the town of St. Helena and just north of Dean and DeLuca and on the same side of the highway.  As you continue on St. Helena Highway heading north it becomes Main Street and the numbers change so it is easy to think the numbers are highway numbers when they are actually Main Street numbers or addresses.  Although Hall is in a very busy section, it is a short drive off the highway and has plenty of parking and a nice grounds with picnic tables and sculptures. Drop in tastings are welcome (10 to 5:30 daily) unless you have a group of eight or more, in which case you should call for an appointment.  Tastings are $20 a person and they are in the Napa Neighbor Program.   Tours are $40 and by appointment only.

Front entry

Hall St. Helena has a sister winery called Hall Rutherford that is open for tasting only by appointment.  The St. Helena winery was originally founded in 1885 when it was known as the Napa Valley Co-op and was one of the main winemaking facilities in Napa Valley.  Craig and Kathryn Hall who opened the St. Helena winery in 2003 in the old Bergfeld Winery.  In 2005 they opened their Rutherford winery.  Their estate totals about 500 acres and  yearly production is about 75,000 cases  and they have been certified organic since 2007.  Their winemaker is Steve Leveque. Much thanks to Todd, our host, for being so helpful and informative.

Tasting bar

Hall is well known for their excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and many of their more recent releases score in the 90 to 97 point range.  But they also make a very good Sauvignon Blanc and our first tasting was the Hall 2012 Sauvignon Blanc at a mere $22.  Pale straw in color, it had a very good nose of grapefruit with floral notes of lemon blossom.  On the palate it was crisp and very refreshing with excellent but smooth acids and a pronounced lime and melon.  Finish was medium length and quite pleasant.  Very nice.  One of the better Napa Valley Sauvignon Blancs at a very reasonable price.


Although Hall is noted for its Cabs they began offering some Pinot Noirs in 2010 under the Walt label.  These now include releases under their Walt Collection from Sonoma County, Anderson Valley and the Santa Rita Highlands.  We tried the Walt 2011 Walt La Brisa Sonoma County Pinot Noir at $40 and also the Walt 2011 Blue Jay Anderson Valley Pinot Noir at the same price.  The La Brisa was a deep ruby color with a light nose of strawberry with some floral notes.  On the palate it was a bright, fresh strawberry and raspberry with subtle spices. Finish was medium length.  The Blue Jay had more of a light red cherry aroma with more intense fruit, mostly cherry, on the palate along with a medium length finish. We both liked each of these Pinots and purchased some of each but tended to slightly prefer the Blue Jay.  Both Pinots are still young and developing but are drinkable now, although I'd give them some air.

Large patio

The Hall 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $50 was to follow.  This is something of a best seller at the winery and 20,000 to 25,000 cases are produced each year.  This is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Syrah, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec.  It was a lovely burgundy in color with a light nose.  On the palate I got lots of ripe black fruit, mostly black cherry and black currants, with some cigar box and spice.  Tannins were beautifully interlaced.  Medium length finish.  This certainly has some age potential but may be consumed now with delight.

Sculptures and patio

The Hall 2010 Darwin Proprietary Red at $45 was up next.  This was 100% Syrah this year, although in previous years it has had some Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend.   As with most Syrahs, it was deep and dark in color.  I got some sweet oak and cherry on the very nice nose.  On the palate it was full bodied, delightfully spicy with black cherry, sweet oak, some cigar box and pomegranate followed by a medium length finish.  It was very appealing.

Side entry

Next was the Hall 2010 T Bar T Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon at $50.  It is 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Merlot.  Aromas of  blackberry with some black olive and sweet cedar, followed by a palate of blackberry, toast and chewy tannins with a short finish.  A bold wine, this should improve with age. If you drink it now be sure to give it plenty of air and pair it with some steak.

Old building in back

Our final sample was the grand finale of the day, the Hall 2010 Jack's Masterpiece Cabernet Sauvignon at $125.  Now I see why Robert Parker is giving Hall Cabs all of those mid and high 90 scores.  I enjoyed this one so much that I made squiggly tasting notes that I could barely read.  And, of course, I did not pour any out.  This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  It had a good nose with dark fruit, some forest floor and  cedar.  What hit me immediately was the balance and complexity.  Tannins and acid are beautifully integrated. I got black currant, chocolate and coffee along with great structure and a long finish.  This is a very solid Cab rather than flashy. I do not have to look up scores and reviews to know this Cab will be a hit and will be scoring in the mid 90s.  It is one of those outstanding Napa Cabs.  You have to be a member of their wine club to purchase it.  Good reason to join.


If you love great Cabs, you will want to visit Hall.  I counted twenty wines on their order form, with two being sold out and four being for members only.  And I know they make some Cabs that are not listed.  There is good reason to become a wine club member.  Not only will you receive discounts but you may purchase wines that the general public may not.  If you do visit, which we strongly recommend, you might want to give their Walt Pinot Noirs a try while you are their.  And if you like Sauvignon Blanc, here is a good one to try.

Large sculpture
401 St. Helena Hwy South
St. Helena, CA 94574
Date of visit: May 8, 2013

Tasting room
Front entry sign during road construction

Tasting room

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